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The Official Saturn and Titan explorating thread - Page 3

post #81 of 100
General discussion : it's not the right place for this thread. Moved to Apple outsider.
post #82 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
By that reasoning, we should all have just stayed in the trees.

Disagree. Coming to the ground was to get things we could TOUCH. "Wow, there is food over there...let me go see if I can get it" and "Oh crap, there is a sabertooth tiger over there, let me run away".
But looking at the sky is looking at things you CANNOT touch and interact with. The moon was visited by how many people? And for what benefit? There really isn't the same tangible benefit that immediate env. exploration provides.

I'm not saying that taking pictures of deep space doesn't have appeal to anyone... but that for just me it doesn't. We have more important pressing matters to explore here at home.

Put me in the club that says deep space photography and exploration should be *PRIVATE* money. Not public. Spend the millions on building better LEVY's or some anti-aircraft missles around major cities... How's THAT for spending money?
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post #83 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by Not Unlike Myself
Disagree. Coming to the ground was to get things we could TOUCH. "Wow, there is food over there...let me go see if I can get it" and "Oh crap, there is a sabertooth tiger over there, let me run away".
But looking at the sky is looking at things you CANNOT touch and interact with. The moon was visited by how many people? And for what benefit? There really isn't the same tangible benefit that immediate env. exploration provides.

I'm not saying that taking pictures of deep space doesn't have appeal to anyone... but that for just me it doesn't. We have more important pressing matters to explore here at home.

Put me in the club that says deep space photography and exploration should be *PRIVATE* money. Not public. Spend the millions on building better LEVY's or some anti-aircraft missles around major cities... How's THAT for spending money?

I disagree, we are touching things with our instruments. Through the wonder that is the internet, I get to go online everyday and look at the latest pictures of rocks, sand, etc on Mars (yes I do this and love it). How cool is that.

The scientists at NASA etc are doing the stearing but I'm following in on the ride and am a very happy tax payer getting my cheap thrills. What do I get? I get to know more about the universe around me.

Imagine if the folks back in spain could have had a video camera on board with Columbus. Would have been fun (until the ugly parts) to watch what he was discovering , no? That is how I feel.

Humans will be scattered around our solar system one day, during my slice of life I get to witness the first exploratory motions.
post #84 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
I mean, they keep finding more and more little moonlets. What's next, Charon finds out it has two little siblings?

link 'Planet Xena' has a sidekick: Gabrielle

Full article below:
Quote:
The astronomers who claim to have discovered the 10th planet in the Earth's solar system have made another intriguing announcement: it has a moon.

While observing the new, so-called planet from Hawaii last month, a team of astronomers led by Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology spotted a faint object trailing next to it. Because it was moving, astronomers ruled it was a moon and not a background star, which is stationary.

The moon discovery is important because it can help scientists determine the new planet's mass. In July, Brown announced the discovery of an icy, rocky object larger than Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, a disc of icy bodies beyond Neptune. Brown labeled the object a planet and nicknamed it Xena after the lead character in the former TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess."

By determining the moon's distance and orbit around Xena, scientists can calculate how heavy Xena is. For example, the faster a moon goes around a planet, the more massive a planet is.

But the newly discovered moon, nicknamed Gabrielle after Xena's faithful traveling sidekick in the TV series, likely will not quell the debate over what exactly is a planet and whether Pluto should keep its status. The problem is there is no official definition for a planet and setting standards like size limits potentially invites other objects to take the "planet" label.

Possessing a moon is not a criteria of planethood since Mercury and Venus are moonless planets. Brown said he expected to find a moon orbiting Xena because many Kuiper Belt objects are paired with moons.

The moon is about 155 miles wide and 60 times fainter than Xena, the farthest-known object in the solar system. It is currently 9 billion miles away from the sun, or about three times Pluto's current distance from the sun.

Scientists believe Xena's moon was formed when Kuiper Belt objects collided with one another. The Earth's moon formed in a similar way when Earth crashed into an object the size of Mars.

The moon was first spotted by a 10-meter telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii on September 10. Scientists expect to learn more about the moon's composition during further observations with the Hubble Space Telescope in November.

Brown planned to submit a paper describing the moon discovery to the Astrophysical Journal next week.

The International Astronomical Union, a group of scientists responsible for naming planets, is deciding on formal names for Xena and Gabrielle.
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post #85 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by Carson O'Genic
Imagine if the folks back in spain could have had a video camera on board with Columbus. Would have been fun (until the ugly parts) to watch what he was discovering , no? That is how I feel.

Humans will be scattered around our solar system one day, during my slice of life I get to witness the first exploratory motions.

Um.. but deep space probes are not colonization ships. And if there *had* been camera's w/ Columbus they'd have documented the rape of the new world. I'm sure the Native American's would love that footage. It's not all 'dreams and happy endings'. I think you know darn well we will wipe ourselves out long before we can sustain a person on another planet for more then a few weeks. Remember... although 'hostile' the new world still had *air* *water* and *food*. (things I don't see laying around in any of these 'inspirational' photos you peep at daily.
I never get tired of being right all the time... but I do get tired of having to prove it to you again and again.
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post #86 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by Not Unlike Myself
Um.. but deep space probes are not colonization ships. And if there *had* been camera's w/ Columbus they'd have documented the rape of the new world. I'm sure the Native American's would love that footage. It's not all 'dreams and happy endings'. I think you know darn well we will wipe ourselves out long before we can sustain a person on another planet for more then a few weeks. Remember... although 'hostile' the new world still had *air* *water* and *food*. (things I don't see laying around in any of these 'inspirational' photos you peep at daily.

Offcourse robotic exploration wasn't an option until recently. My point is we can all share in the exploration in a good way, and for me that makes the cost of NASA worth it.

I'm more optimistic than you regarding colonization. I know we're not there yet, but I think we'll survive until some of us make it off the planet. I think the moon will likely develop into some sort of tourism destination for the rich to begin with, then the rest will build from there.
post #87 of 100
[cynical]

I think it's great that the first thing we've done is export a bunch of radioactive material off our planet in tin cans. Like smallpox but more efficient.

[/cynical]

Not to contribute to the digression from CuriousBurb's pure science postings. I love this thread.

--B
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post #88 of 100
Quote:
Originally posted by bergz
[cynical]

I think it's great that the first thing we've done is export a bunch of radioactive material off our planet in tin cans. Like smallpox but more efficient.

[/cynical]

Not to contribute to the digression from CuriousBurb's pure science postings. I love this thread.

--B

We're just redistributing the elements that came for stars in the first place.
post #89 of 100
Thread Starter 
Spongy and Lavalike moons and more

Hyperion

Click pic above for links to QT movie of Hyperion flyby.

Quote:

Cassini performed back-to-back flybys of Saturn moons Tethys and Hyperion last weekend, coming closer than ever before to each of them. Tethys has a scarred, ancient surface, while Hyperion is a strange, spongy-looking body with dark-floored craters that speckle its surface.


Click for news of 'doubleheader' flyby.


False colour close-up of Tethys. Click for details.

Quote:

This view is among the closest Cassini images of Tethys' icy surface taken during the Sept. 24, 2005 flyby.
This false-color image, created with infrared, green and ultraviolet frames, reveals a wide variety of surface colors across this terrain. The presence of this variety at such small scales may indicate a mixture of different surface materials. Tethys was previously known to have color differences on its surface, especially on its trailing side, but this kind of color diversity is new to imaging scientists. For a clear-filter view of this terrain, see PIA07736.
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post #90 of 100
Thread Starter 
F ring detail (and damage)...



Quote:
Drawing the Drapes
October 5, 2005\tFull-Res: PIA07601

Prometheus poses here with its latest creation: a dark, diagonal gore in the tenuous material interior to Saturn's F ring. The shepherd moon creates a new gore each time it comes closest to the F ring in its orbit of Saturn, and the memory of previous passes is preserved in the rings's structure for some time afterward. Prometheus is 102 kilometers (63 miles) across.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 20, 2005, at a distance of approximately 499,000 kilometers (310,000 miles) from Saturn and at a high Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 144 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.
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post #91 of 100
Thread Starter 
Cassini's latest stunning pic...

Ringside with Dione



October 17, 2005\tFull-Res: PIA07744

Quote:
Speeding toward pale, icy Dione, Cassini's view is enriched by the tranquil gold and blue hues of Saturn in the distance. The horizontal stripes near the bottom of the image are Saturn's rings. The spacecraft was nearly in the plane of the rings when the images were taken, thinning them by perspective and masking their awesome scale. The thin, curving shadows of the C ring and part of the B ring adorn the northern latitudes visible here, a reminder of the rings' grandeur.
It is notable that Dione, like most of the other icy Saturnian satellites, looks no different in natural color than in monochrome images.

Images taken on Oct. 11, 2005, with blue, green and infrared (centered at 752 nanometers) spectral filters were used to create this color view, which approximates the scene as it would appear to the human eye. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 39,000 kilometers (24,200 miles) from Dione and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 22 degrees. The image scale is about 2 kilometers (1 mile) per pixel.

and Flicks

Quote:
QuickTime (sm, no audio) (3.5 MB) QuickTime (lg, no audio) (9.9 MB)

Ice Moon Rendezvous Full-Res: PIA07749

Zooming in closer and closer, this movie chronicles Cassini's targeted flyby of Dione, with Saturn and its lovely rings forming a dramatic backdrop.
The movie begins with Cassini during its approach about 107,000 kilometers (66,000 miles) from the icy moon. Few surface details are discernable from this distance, but the view quickly improves. The movie jumps to a point 39,000 kilometers (24,000 miles) from Dione, with Saturn's atmosphere now in the background and draped by threadlike ring shadows.

As the spacecraft gets still closer, the camera focuses on bright fractures in the west. It becomes apparent that these braided canyons slice through older craters. At the closest point in this approach sequence, Cassini is about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) above Dione's surface and the image scale is 234 meters (768 feet) per pixel. For a narrow-angle camera image taken at almost the same instant see PIA07748.

A dramatic shift in perspective follows, with Cassini moving past the point of closest approach and staring at a large crater on Dione's receding limb. Steep cliffs gleam in the sunlight as the intrepid craft pulls away. About three and a half hours have elapsed since the first image in the movie was taken.

This movie was created from clear-filter images taken during the Oct. 11, 2005, flyby of Dione. All images except the departing view were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera.

You can clearly see the central peak in the receding crater in the final shots of the movie, and in both the main image and both movies you really get a sense of just how thin the rings are. The ring shadow on Saturn is a nice touch, too.

Brilliant stuff.
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post #92 of 100
Thread Starter 
For a switch of senses as a seasonal trick/treat, click the link for

"I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them" -Isaac Asimov
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post #93 of 100
Thread Starter 
And you think it's cold where you are...



Quote:
Season of Moons
December 6, 2005\tFull-Res: PIA07767

This montage shows four major icy moons of Saturn that the Cassini spacecraft visited while surveying the Saturnian system during 2005. Even though all of these bodies are made largely of ice, they exhibit remarkably different geological histories and varied surface features.
Craters from meteorite impacts are common features on all of these moons. But since the major moons of Saturn are thought to have all formed at approximately the same time, the different distribution of sizes, shapes and numbers of craters on each of their surfaces tell scientists a great deal about the differences in their geologic histories.

Rhea and Iapetus are thoroughly peppered by impacts, suggesting their surfaces have been exposed to the shooting gallery of space for eons. Dione appears to have regions of terrain that are smoother, with fewer craters, suggesting a slightly younger surface. Dione also has a large system of bright, braided fractures that suggest tectonic activity took place there some time after the moon first formed.

Enceladus, however, possesses a region of terrain near its south pole (shown here), that is so dramatically devoid of impact sites that scientists suspected it was geologically active in the recent past, and perhaps even today. The discovery this year of material jetting from the pole and creating a great plume of icy particles confirmed these suspicions. See Fountains of Enceladus for images of the Enceladus plume.

More on the Enceladus Plume
Click for links to QT Movie


The processes that power the activity on Enceladus remain elusive, as do those that produced the pronounced equatorial bulge on Iapetus. This feature was imaged for the first time by Cassini during a flyby of Iapetus that began New Year's Day. The bulge on Iapetus reaches 20 kilometers (12 miles) above the surrounding terrain in places, making it one of the tallest features in the solar system.

Like many scientific journeys, Cassini's historic survey of Saturn's moons has raised more questions. For example, why small Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across) is presently geologically active while much larger Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is not. Fortunately, such puzzles are the most exciting sort for scientists interested in uncovering the secrets of Saturn's realm.

Also of note recently have been more releases on Titan, including movies of the descent and landing site calculated from the last imaging flyby (some with radar).
Descent Imager Landing site movie Descent movie

The Nov 30th ESA Press conference on Mars Express and Huygens results is now online
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post #94 of 100
Thread Starter 
Updates:

Relief on Iapetus, the two-faced Moon



Quote:
To the Relief of Iapetus
March 2, 2006\tFull-Res: PIA08125

Sunlight strikes the terminator (the boundary between day and night) region on Saturn's moon Iapetus at nearly horizontal angles, making visible the vertical relief of many features.
This view is centered on terrain in the southern hemisphere of Iapetus (1,468 kilometers, or 912 miles across). Lit terrain visible here is on the moon's leading hemisphere. In this image, a large, central-peaked crater is notable at the boundary between the dark material in Cassini Regio and the brighter material on the trailing hemisphere.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 22, 2006, at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles) from Iapetus and at a Sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 67 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 8 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.

Titan's Hood through the Haze (with Tethys on the left)



Quote:
Saturnian Specters
March 1, 2006\tFull-Res: PIA08124

Ghostly details make this dark scene more than just a beautiful grouping of two Saturn moons, with Tethys on the left and Titan on the right. In Titan's thick and inflated atmosphere, the detached high haze layer can be seen, as well as the complex northern polar hood (at the top). Images like this one can help scientists make definitive estimates of the altitudes to which the high haze extends.
The faint vertical banded pattern is a type of noise that usually is removed during image processing. Because this image was processed to enhance the visibility of details in Titan's atmosphere and the faint G ring, the vertical noise was also enhanced.

Titan is Saturn's largest moon, at 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) across. Tethys is 1,071 kilometers (665 miles) across.

This view was obtained in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 19, 2006, at a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Titan and 1 million kilometers (600,000 miles) from Tethys. The image scale is 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Titan and 6 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel on Tethys.

And the latest shot of the edge of the F Ring seems to show a spiral pattern...



Quote:
F Ring Edge
February 28, 2006\tFull-Res: PIA08123

Structure in Saturn's narrow and complex F ring is seen here, including one of the faint strands (at the left) that Cassini has shown to curl around the planet in a tight, rotating spiral. Scientists think the spiral structure might be due to disturbance of micron-sized F-ring particles by a tiny moon (or moons).
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 19, 2006, at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (700,000 miles) from Saturn and from just above the ringplane. The image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.
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post #95 of 100


The following is the full text of a cnn article. ---B

The Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of liquid water spewing from geysers on one of Saturn's icy moons,
raising the tantalizing possibility that the celestial object harbors life.

The surprising discovery excited some scientists, who say the Saturn moon, Enceladus, should be added to the short list of places within the solar system most likely to have extraterrestrial life.

Recent high-resolution images snapped by the orbiting Cassini confirmed the eruption of icy jets and giant water vapor plumes from geysers resembling frozen Old Faithfuls at Enceladus' south pole. (Watch NASA's Dr. Torrence Johnson talk about the importance of finding liquid water on Enceladus -- 1:22)

"We have the smoking gun" that proves the existence of water, said Carolyn Porco, a Cassini imaging scientist from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

If Enceladus does harbor life, it probably consists of microbes or other primitive organisms capable of living in extreme conditions, scientists say.

The findings were published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

David Morrison, a senior scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute, cautioned against rushing to judgment about whether the tiny moon could support life. Scientists generally agree habitats need several ingredients for life to emerge, including water, a stable heat source and the right chemical recipe.

"It's certainly interesting, but I don't see how much more you can say beyond that," Morrison said.

Scientists believe Mars and Jupiter's icy moons might have -- or once had -- conditions hospitable to life.

Saturn is around 800 million miles from Earth. Enceladus measures 314 miles (505 kilometers) across and is the shiniest object in the solar system.

It was long thought to be cold and still. But scientists now believe it is a geologically active moon that possesses an unusually warm south pole.

The water is believed to vent from fissures in the south pole. Porco said the venting has probably been going on for at least several thousand years, potentially providing a lasting heat source.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint NASA-European Space Agency project. The spacecraft was launched in 1997 and went into orbit around Saturn in 2004, exploring its spectacular rings and many moons.

Cassini made three flybys of Enceladus last year and is expected to fly within 220 miles (354 kilometers) of the moon again in 2008.
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post #96 of 100
Thread Starter 
Dude, I was just going to update this thread with the science version of the story...



Here's the full NASA version:





Click for details
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post #97 of 100
I know, I'm sorry about the NN link. Just wanted to beat you to it for once.

Best. Thread. Evar.

--B
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post #98 of 100
Thank you to both of you for the updates. I like to see these threads pop to the top now and then. So is there life on that very cold hunk o' ice? So what is the list now for places with liquid water? Europa, Enceladus, Io?, Mars?
post #99 of 100
This article has some brief (thank God) and interesting links about boron- and silicon-based lifeforms, as well as ammonia vs. H2O, which you should be able to follow with a minimal knowledge of chemistry.

Why Do We Think Aliens Are Made of Water?

--B
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post #100 of 100
Thread Starter 
Crank up the Katie Melua and get another rewrite for her bicycle tune...

Cassini Team adds to the Saturnian Moon count...

+10 Million Moonlets (propellers)



Quote:
Cassini Finds 'Missing Link' Moonlet Evidence in Saturn's Rings
March 29, 2006

Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have found evidence that a new class of small moonlets resides within Saturn's rings. There may be as many as 10 million of these objects within one of Saturn's rings alone. The propeller moonlets represent a hitherto unseen size-class of particles orbiting within the rings.

The moonlets' existence could help answer the question of whether Saturn's rings were formed through the break-up of a larger body or are the remnants of the disk of material from which Saturn and its moons formed.

"These moonlets are likely to be chunks of the ancient body whose break-up produced Saturn's glorious rings," said Joseph Burns of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., a co-author of the report.

Careful analysis of high-resolution images taken by Cassini's cameras revealed four faint, propeller-shaped double streaks. These features were found in an otherwise bland part of the mid-A Ring, a bright section in Saturn's main rings. Cassini imaging scientists reporting in this week's edition of the journal Nature believe the "propellers" provide the first direct observation of how moonlets of this size affect nearby particles. Cassini took the images as it slipped into Saturn orbit on July 1, 2004.

Previous measurements, including those made by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s, have shown that Saturn's rings contain mostly small water-ice particles ranging from less than 1 centimeter (one-half inch) across to the size of a small house. Scientists knew about two larger embedded ring moons such as 30-kilometer-wide (19-mile) Pan and 7-kilometer-wide (4-mile) Daphnis. The latest findings mark the first evidence of objects of about 100 meters (300 feet) in diameter. From the number of moonlets spotted in the very small fraction of the A ring seen in the images, scientists estimated the total number of moonlets to be about 10 million.

"The discovery of these intermediate-sized bodies tells us that Pan and Daphnis are probably just the largest members of the ring population, rather than interlopers from somewhere else," said Matthew Tiscareno, an imaging team research associate at Cornell and lead author on the Nature paper.

Moons as large as Pan and Daphnis clear large gaps in the ring particles as they orbit Saturn. In contrast, smaller moonlets are not strong enough to clear out the ring, resulting in a partial gap centered on the moonlet and shaped like an airplane propeller. Such features created by moonlets were predicted by computer models, which give scientists confidence in their latest findings.

"We acquired this spectacular, one-of-a-kind set of images immediately after getting into orbit for the express purpose of seeing fine details in the rings that we had not seen previously," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader and co-author. "This will open up a new dimension in our exploration of Saturn's rings and moons, their origin and evolution."

The detection of moonlets embedded in a ring of smaller particles may provide an opportunity to observe the processes by which planets form in disks of material around young stars, including our own early solar system. "The structures we observe with Cassini are strikingly similar to those seen in many numerical models of the early stages of planetary formation, even though the scales are dramatically different," said co-author Carl Murray, an imaging team member at Queen Mary, University of London. "Cassini is giving us a unique insight into the origin of planets."

Quote:
Locating the Propellers
March 29, 2006\tFull-Res: PIA07792

This collection of Cassini images provides context for understanding the location and scale of propeller-shaped features observed within Saturn's A ring.
Careful analysis of the highest resolution images taken by Cassini's cameras as the spacecraft slipped into Saturn orbit revealed the four faint, propeller-shaped double-streaks in an otherwise bland part of the mid-A ring. Imaging scientists believe the "propellers" provide the first direct observation of the dynamical effects of moonlets approximately 100 meters (300 feet) in diameter. The propeller moonlets represent a hitherto unseen size-class of particles orbiting within the rings.

The left-hand panel provides broad context within the rings, and shows the B ring, Cassini Division, A ring and F ring. Image scale in the radial, or outward from Saturn, direction is about 45 kilometers (28 miles) per pixel; because the rings are viewed at an angle, the image scale in the longitudinal, or circumferential, direction is several times greater.

The center image is a closer view of the A ring, showing the radial locations where propeller features were spotted. The view is approximately 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) across from top to bottom and includes a large density wave at bottom (caused by the moons Janus and Epimetheus), as well as two smaller density waves. The footprints of the propeller discovery images are between density waves, in bland, quiescent regions of the ring.

The propellers appear as double dashes in the two close-up discovery images at the right and are circled. The unseen moonlets, each roughly the size of a football field, lie in the center of each structure. These two images were taken during Saturn orbit insertion on July 1, 2004, and are presented here at one-half scale. Resolution in the original images was 52 meters (171 feet) per pixel. The horizontal lines in the image represent electronic noise and do not correspond to ring features.

The propellers are about 5 kilometers (3 miles) long from tip to tip, and the radial offset (the "leading" dash is slightly closer to Saturn) is about 300 meters (1,000 feet).

The propeller structures are unchanged as they orbit the planet. In that way, they are much like the wave pattern that trails after a speedboat as it skims across a smooth lake. Such a pattern is hard to discern in a choppy sea. In much the same way, scientists think other effects may be preventing Cassini from seeing the propellers except in very bland parts of the rings.

See Four Propellers and Propeller Motion for additional images showing these features.

That's an awful lot of new names to come up with...
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